Every story begins and ends with a woman, a mother, a grandmother, a girl, a child. Every story is a birth…
So begins Radiance of Tomorrow, Ishmael Beah’s first novel, one dogged by memories of horror but glimmering with an improbably hope. When Beah’s memoir, A Long Way Gone, was published in 2007, it soared to the top of bestseller lists, becoming an instant classic: a harrowing account of Sierra Leone’s civil war and the fate of child soldiers, a book that “everyone in the world should read” (Carolyn See, The Washington Post). Now Beah, whom Dave Eggers has called “arguably the most read African writer in contemporary literature,” has returned with an affecting, tender parable about postwar life in those regions of Africa still reeling from conflict.
At the center of Radiance of Tomorrow are Benjamin and Bockarie, two longtime friends who return to their hometown, Imperi, after a devastating civil war. The village is in ruins, the ground covered in bones and drenched in deep despair. The war may be over, but the denizens of Imperi are not spared the dangers that hover over them, menacing as vengeful ghosts. As more villagers begin to come back, Benjamin and Bockarie try to forge a new community by taking up their former posts as teachers, but they’re beset by obstacles: a scarcity of food; a rash of murders, thievery, rape, and retaliation; and the depradations of foreign mining company intent on sullying the town’s water supply and blocking its paths with electric wires. As Benjamin and Bockarie search for a way to restore order, they’re forced to reckon with the uncertainty of their past and future alike.
With the gentle lyricism of a dream and the moral clarity of a fable, Radiance of Tomorrow is a powerful novel about preserving what means the most to us, even in uncertain times. If A Long Way Gone taught us to mourn the crimes of yesterday, Radiance of Tomorrow introduces us to a people who must survive their guilt and accept tomorrow, with all its promise—and radiance.